Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is dedicated to become the incubator of future innovation leaders and entrepreneurs. Without a doubt, this can be seen from the success of our alumni and graduate. Here, we are proud to present you the stories of two HKUST alumni founded company- Sensbeat and DJI and a HKUST graduate who has raised over HK$6 million through crowd funding for his product design:
Meanwhile, the current global market leader in unmanned aerial photography DJI is also founded by another HKUST alumnus- Mr. Frank Wang (HKUST Alumnus, BEng (ELEC) & MPhil). DJI controls 50% of the unmanned aerial vehicles market, a market valued at 250 million to 300 million USDs by Frost & Sullivan. Founded in 2006, DJI has...
Meanwhile, the current global market leader in unmanned aerial photography DJI is also founded by another HKUST alumnus- Mr. Frank Wang (HKUST Alumnus, BEng (ELEC) & MPhil). DJI controls 50% of the unmanned aerial vehicles market, a market valued at 250 million to 300 million USDs by Frost & Sullivan.
Founded in 2006, DJI has grown from 20 employees to 2800 employees reported by Bloomberg Business. The story also begins in HKUST where Frank met his mentor- Professor Li Zexiang, a professor at the Department of Electronic & Computer Engineering of HKUST. Frank’s idea of finding DJI started to grow when he developed the unmanned miniature helicopter which achieved a first world flight on Mount Everest. He has then started to focus on improving the functions of unmanned helicopters, allowing them to survey and monitor high altitude environments and facilitate the protection of highland ecology.
With his persistence, DJI manufactures a range of products like flying cameras, flying platforms, flight controllers for multi rotors, accessories for helicopters, camera gimbals and ground stations. The company has made $131 million US Dollars in the year 2013 and is expecting a growth by 300 to 500 percent a year.
Jeff CHEN, a graduate of Dual Degree Program in Technology and Management (T&M-DDP), has raised over HK$6 million through crowdfunding online with a brand new design of bicycle helmet in just one month. Met his partner in Harvard where the project started In 2013, Jeff studied in Harvard University in USA as a visiting student...
Jeff CHEN, a graduate of Dual Degree Program in Technology and Management (T&M-DDP), has raised over HK$6 million through crowdfunding online with a brand new design of bicycle helmet in just one month.
Met his partner in Harvard where the project started
In 2013, Jeff studied in Harvard University in USA as a visiting student and met his partner Eu-wen DING at a hackathon “Startup Scramble” where Eu-wen pitched his idea of the next generation bicycle helmet with lights and turning/brake signals for enhancing the safety of cyclists.
In USA, cycling is a popular sport and many people ride bicycles to work or school. However, cyclists are often injured on roads because they are not easily visible to other drivers, especially at night. Eu-wen thought of adding integrated lights of turning/brake signals to bicycle helmet so cyclists would be more visible to other drivers and signals would greatly enhance the communication between cyclists and other road users.
Jeff found this idea very interesting and practical, so he joined Eu-wen to further develop the idea. They produced a prototype within two days and won the championship.
Start the journey
After winning, Jeff and Eu-wen decided to turn the idea into a real, viable product. The major challenge of producing this next generation bicycle helmet is to integrate all the electronics into the helmet such that it still maintains its main protection function for absorbing impact in the event of a fall or collision. They spent over a year in working with the helmet manufacturer to ensure the bicycle helmet with new features would meet the safety and certification standards. They also met real users on streets direct and improved the helmet based on their feedbacks.
Raise funds from public online
When the major technological obstacle was overcome, Jeff and Eu-wen put the project on “Kickstarter”, an online crowdfunding platform, in July this year to raise funds from the public by pre-selling the helmet at US$99 each. They hit the funding target of US$125,000 (around HK$968,750) on the first day of fund-raising and reached over HK$6 million with over 6,000 backers in just one month when the campaign closed which is totally out of their expectation.
After nearly 2-year hard work, the new bicycle helmet will be tested by real users in December 2015 to collect feedbacks for further improvement and will be put into mass production in March. Jeff and Eu-wen target to deliver the real products to backers in April 2016 and later to market.
No doubt that the project is a success so far but Jeff knows what matter is the future. Jeff recalled that there was a startup which raised over US$10 million but turned out to delay in delivering products around one year. Their main focus now is to deliver the products on time and control the quality. In future, Jeff and Eu-wen will keep on enhancing the bicycle helmet by adding different functions like automatic emergency call when detecting serious vibration and cycling route sharing function etc. and develop other bicycle-related products.
Jeff valued the curriculum of T&M-DDP which provided him with both business skills and technology knowledge. Business kills helped him present and pitch effectively in front of investors. Technology knowledge is definitely a solid background for coping with technological problems when developing products.
To kick-off a startup, Jeff has the following advices to students:
- Innovative ideas are not enough, the ability in solving a real problem is more important.
- Create some prototypes (model, mock up app etc.) as early as possible to test with the real potential customers and validate the idea early.
- Learn from people who have really gone through the startup process.
Sensbeat is a mobile app which are available in both Google Play and Apple App Store. The company is currently based in Silicon Valley, the leading hub for high-tech innovations and development. Sensbeat targets at a market-in-between, it builds a unique social networking application which allows users to share their emotions and music and is...
Sensbeat is a mobile app which are available in both Google Play and Apple App Store. The company is currently based in Silicon Valley, the leading hub for high-tech innovations and development.
Sensbeat targets at a market-in-between, it builds a unique social networking application which allows users to share their emotions and music and is aspired to connect people around the globe with music as a universal language. Out of 7 co-founders of Sensbeat, 6 of them are graduates or even current students from HKUST.
The story all begins in this young and innovative university. Mr. Leo Wong (HKUST Alumnus, BBA (Marketing & IS) 2014) has the idea of founding a start-up company when he was on international exchange in Europe. The idea further sublimed when he returned from IE Business School in Spain to HKUST after his exchange, and met Mr. Ben Chan (HKUST Alumnus, Dual-Degree Program Graduate 2014) and Mr. Conrad Lo (HKUST Alumnus, BBA (FINA) 2013) in the university community coincidentally.
The three shares the common dream, and all of them, despite receiving “prestigious” job offers choose to become entrepreneurs and found Sensbeat. Their dreams are never easy and often accompanied by all kind of challenges and obstacles. They have once been beset with the difficulties in funding, the clashes between their studies and managing the business, the lack of a fixed working location. Life has never been easy for these founders and they had their time of frustration.
Leo, one of the co-founders of Sensbeat could not stop conveying his gratefulness for the kind assistances he received from the university. He said, “HKUST gives us an entrepreneurship friendly environment. The guidance and advice received from HKUST experienced and calibred professors, the office leased by the university, all of these have enabled us to push the business into the next level.’ “Bitterness finishes, sweetness begins”, Sensbeat has received attentions from different angel investors and venture capital. Sensbeat has raised over 1 million US dollars before the founders graduate, making it one of the largest fundings for a student-founded startup in history. Sensbeat received different international awards, such as the “Top 6 Start-Up” in Asia, Silver Award of HKSTP Technopreneur and the Grand Prize Champion (International Category) in Ignite Entrepreneur Challenge 2013. Without a doubt, Sensbeat is an internationally recognized start-up and is a huge success.